Highlands & Islands

Court challenge to dismissal of Lewis grazings committee

Lambs Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Common grazings are areas of land shared by crofters for raising livestock

A row about the running of crofters' common grazings in a part of Lewis looks set to be heard at the Scottish Land Court.

Upper Coll grazings committee has been dismissed by the Crofting Commission due to a perceived failure to provide audited accounts.

Former committee members are preparing an application to the court in a bid to have the dismissal overturned.

The land court deals with disputes in crofting and farming.

Elected members

Common grazings are areas of land shared by crofters and others who hold a right to graze stock on that land.

There are more than 1,000 common grazings covering at total of 500,000ha across Scotland, according to the Crofting Commission.

Grazing committees manage these areas of land and their members are elected by crofters.

The Crofting Commission, the industry's regulatory body, requested accounts from the Upper Coll committee after receiving a complaint relating to a meeting between the commission and crofters.

Crofters complained to the commission about the conduct of certain commissioners at the meeting.

Following the dismissal of the grazings committee, its former members have said they complied with all requests made of them and that they had done nothing wrong.

Now they have taken the step of preparing an application to the Scottish Land Court to have the commission's decision to dismiss the committee overturned.

The application will submitted on their behalf next week.

The Scottish Crofting Federation, a body representing crofters, has criticised the commission's actions and Western Isles Council - Comhairle nan Eilean Siar - has appealed for the dispute to be resolved.

In a statement, the Crofting Commission said it was "committed to assisting all common grazings committees and clerks to self-regulate within the provisions of crofting legislation, and will work with them to do so".

It added that it had offered to meet with crofters at Upper Coll and Mangersta in Uig, also in Lewis, where a grazing committee has also been disbanded.

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